An anthropologist of wide repute here profiles Ujjain: a millennia-old, pilgrim centre that has been celebrated in history, legend and mythology. Located on the eastern bank of the Sipra-in Malwa's culture area-in MP it is a major link in the sacred network of the Hindu India. And has been traditionally venerated all across the subcontinent as one of the barely four sites for the periodic kumbha melas. This ancient city of Avantika in fact, exhibits all that has gone into the shaping of Hindu ritualistic behaviour. Yet the crowning glory of Ujjain is centered around Mahakal: Lord Siva's temple, which is believed to be old beyond history.
In opening out the cultural panorama of Ujjain, Dr. Samanta spotlights everything that reinforces the sanctity of this sacred complex: like, for enstance, the ksetra itself, the Sipra river, bathing ghats, crematoriums, priests, preachers, pilgrims, mystifying rituals, religious discourses, festivals, yatras, pageants, ascetics' congregations, and godmen's institutions-with meticulous descriptions of the Mahakal temple which, generation after generation, has compelled country-wide attention. The book also investigates the linkages between this cultural centre and the cultural area and how this sacred complex compare with its counterparts elsewhere in India.
The author has for this study employed standard anthropological techniques, coupled with several spells of his field work and his personal interviews with a number of key informants. Also included here is a painstakingly compiled glossary of non-English words.
About the Author
Deepak Kumar Samanta is Calcutta University PhD and his doctoral dissertation on the Neo-Buddhists has been well-received. Yet his varied research concerns have led him on to work on different tribal groups of Central and Western India, in addition to his studies of pilgrimages sacred centres.
Essentially a motivated scholar, with specialized interests in social and cultural anthropology, Dr. Samanta has the distinction of being published in almost all the leading anthropological journals in India.
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